I was hanging out in Tafawa Balewa Square that night, enjoying a stick of suya and soaking in the cool breeze. Being a quiet student of the female specie of the homo sapiens and their mysterious ways, I was watching the young and not so young members go by. Quite a few were flaunting strategic parts of their anatomy in a manner that indicated that though the time was only 8 p.m., the sex stock exchange market was buzzing. I did not know that as I was observing I was also being observed.
‘Hi, handsome,’ a cool voice cooed.
I looked up from my deliciously peppery suya. Standing right before me was a tall lady whose high-heeled shoes added an extra five inches to her height. Although I won the race for heights, courtesy of the union between my longitudinal parents, this babe dwarfed me. But what really got me worried was not her height. If what she wore was a micro mini skirt, life might have been easier. It was a see-through apology that even the briefest of briefs would have bowed to. And her legs were, mildly speaking, dangerous. Her entire ‘federal republic’ was smack in my eyes before I could stand up.
‘Mind if I join you?’ Her voice was low and silky, enough to arouse an eunuch. My eyes sneaked to her chest and I wondered if the thing straining to cover her mammaries were her baby sister’s.
To hell with suya! I thought as I jumped up. The suya seller stared at me mischievously but this was no time for heroics. Mba! I am a full-time coward. Her face resembled a coat of many colors; her heart-attacking perfume was not for men like me.
‘I want to keep you company, lover boy,’ she went on, stretching out a cool hand on my arm.
‘Tell them you didn’t see me.’ I forgot my change with the Hausa mai-suya as I had a super-sonic dialogue with my legs.
I avoided Tafawa Balewa at night for five days. But a man should be a man, not just a possessor of an iroko stump between his legs. Since I lived around the Square at that time, I loved hanging out there after work. On the sixth day, around 6 p.m. I strolled out to the stand of one of the second-hand booksellers there. My eyes were roaming across some American thrillers when the spirits came calling.
‘Do you prefer Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth?’
I turned as back-stabbed with a white-hot dagger. It was she, radically transformed. Her blue T-shirt and knee-length skirt were simple, decent and wholesomely appealing. Her face was devoid of make-up save for a tinge of lipstick. She looked like an average secretary back from work. My mouth opened, closed.
She smiled. ‘Stop acting like you saw a ghost. Which one do you want? I prefer romance.’
My ancestors were not cowards so I charged.
‘What do you want, woman?’ My voice was hard.
‘Don’t be a kid. I like you. Na crime?’
‘Do you know if I am human? Think only mortals come to TBS?’
Her smile was warm. ‘You are a man, a fine one, too. I see you almost every evening, quietly eating your suya, novel in hand. I dey watch you; you no dey mess around with all these ashawoo. So I said, this guy is different. Are you Igbo?’
Perhaps I should have explored the matter further. The prospect was enticing. But, nwanne, Ellen was waiting for me at home, her belly becoming rounder almost every day with my seed. I left without a word.
I never went to TBS till we packed from the area.